I believe strongly in prison systems like in Norway where they treat prisoners like human beings so they will act as such when released back into society.
Before signing up for a Twitter account, my perception of this social media site was that it was mainly a place where celebrities could post one-liners or photos to quench the thirst of their numerous fans/followers. Like Ice T’s wife Coco with her ‘Thong Thursday’ selfie, or Justin Bieber with his “Time for fast food” statement, becoming the big retweet of the day.
As I noticed more and more people listing their Twitter addresses on their websites, I started following the ones I found inspiring or with whom I thought I might share interests. The call of Twitter bore fruit far beyond my expectations. I found groups and individuals that I could relate to and establish positive contact with.
When I first landed on Twitter, the Jodi Arias trial was raging in Maricopa County, Arizona. I wondered then if the Tweet, as the direct descendant of the telegram, would make its main inventor, Samuel Morse, roll over in his grave. With only a mere 140 characters, people were managing to insult each other and say a lot of very bad things, mostly in capital letters. I was called a DOUCHEBAG for suggesting that we might wait and listen to all witnesses and respect due process before passing judgement on Jodi. But I quickly learned to avoid confrontation and move on.
Having spent time in Arizona as a tourist, I was shocked beyond belief — during the course of this trial — at how archaic and twisted the Maricopa County criminal justice system was. This led me to check if the Real Sheriff Joe Arpaio was on Twitter. And, indeed he was, and boy did I hit the motherlode. Arpaio’s alter ego, the Lone Ranger, was plastered on his page and at the time, he was asking for donations to have seized horses saved from euthanasia.
The poor animals were a far cry from ‘Silver’ and were in need of immediate care. Arpaio made a point of being photographed with a veterinarian to emphasize the seriousness of the cause. What a great humanitarian gesture from Twitter Joe!
Joe Arpaio has been the sheriff of Maricopa County since 1992 and a humanitarian he is not. He knows that virtually everyone feels compassion for pitiful animals, so he uses them to detract attention from his otherwise highly questionable actions at the helm of the County. It makes his constituents look the other way, while he busily chases down Latinos and tortures prisoners. The Sheriff’s posse, Steven Seagal, did not hesitate to have 100 roosters offed at a cock fighter’s house, as he led dozens of officers in riot gear to set off explosives, knock down a fence and wall, and blow out windows in an overblown raid for his TV reality show Lawman. I guess chickens do not count as animals, right?
A dog actually got killed during this massive exercise in bad taste, but Arpaio is disputing the owner’s claim with his usual logic: if he was not smart enough to get his Nikon out in time to photograph the dying pup, it did not happen.
Arpaio’s official website is basically a long list of his impressive accomplishments as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — a title supposedly given to him by the media a long time ago, but that he more than likely created for himself. It describes his career as a Federal Narcotics Agent and his remarkable run as the head of the Arizona DEA. The obvious problem with his constant horn tooting is that many of his claims are either not real or cannot be verified.
He claims to have arrested or stopped Elvis Presley in Vegas for a traffic violation, but no police records exist. He calls himself a Korean War veteran, and even though he was in the Army during that War, he was in France and never set foot in Korea. He has no authority over other police departments but calls himself “Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County,” and claims authority over all police departments and the DPS. He even states that “He broke the famous French Connection” but the law enforcement personnel involved in that well-known case have never heard of him.
In spite of a study showing that the rate of recidivism in his jails had not changed, Arpaio challenged the results and said the rate was indeed dropping. Why? Because he said so. Tent City, created 20 years ago, was nothing new either, but he keeps pretending it was his idea. His biggest whopper so far is that he has saved taxpayers millions of dollars when, in reality, as we all know, his various machinations have cost taxpayers plenty — millions of dollars in legal fees, attorney’s fees, judgments and support for his public relations staff. Even though insurance companies are supposed to cover lawsuits, their deductibles can be as high as $5 million.
At Estrella Jail in Maricopa County, Arpaio offers a drug treatment program called ALPHA. The problem is that not many inmates can qualify. The criteria for admittance into the program is based on good behavior while in custody and classification. Many petitions have been signed to try to get the sheriff to calibrate the eligibility requirements, so that more inmates can participate. As usual, it is an initiative designed more for show than for results. GED (Graduate Equivalency Degree) programs are offered at Estrella and must be counted as a positive in a sea of negatives. So hurray for Joe for bringing this standard program into this pit of hell he calls a jail.
This brings me to the living conditions at the County jails in Phoenix, Arizona. The inmates can either be lodged inside the jail in pods, in isolation, or in the tents outside, depending on whether they are part of the chain gangs and if they are waiting for trial, or have already been convicted.
Rapper DMX can attest to life in Tent City. He was removed and put into solitary because he was upset at being restricted to bread and water, and threw his tray at an officer. My guess is that he probably preferred the outdoors, as opposed to being stuck in a cell 23 hours a day, but as Tent City is near a landfill and a rendering plant, plus the heat in summer can rise to 140 degrees with the rotting animal smell wafting from the plant, let’s just say that either option can become a ‘catch a tiger by the toe’ kind of a choice.
It’s not rare to see helicopters hovering over the jail compound as many TV stations from around the world are trying to film this infamous establishment where three inmates have already died in a restraint chair and a woman was forced to give birth while shackled to a bed. Amnesty International has been refused entry and other civil rights groups like ACLU have expressed concerns on a regular basis.
Shackled and all dressed up in stripes with pink underwear and socks, but with nowhere to go to eat decent food, the inmates have to chow down on their jail slush after a day on the chain gang, at school or in solitary.
Arpaio decided that feeding an inmate properly would be a sign of weakness, so he is serving meals that cost 15 to 40 cents each. He has banned cigarettes and coffee, and salt and pepper are a thing of the past.
Strangely enough, his constituents seem to love it. He is feeding inmates only twice a day but the ones working the chain gang or appearing in court receive a lunch bag.
He has recently turned the inmates into vegetarians to save a few more bucks which he will, no doubt, use for his own legal fees. The citrus fruits that are provided each day are often rotten and moldy bread is not a rare occurrence. The inmates are made to pay for their own food so they should at least get their money’s worth. To add insult to injury, one of the few TV channels the inmates are allowed to watch is the food channel. Just another cruel way to taunt them. The interesting aspect of these measures is that they do not yield any positive results and are mostly punitive and vengeful in nature.
During her trial, Jodi Arias had to get up at 4 a.m. to go to the courthouse where she would spend the whole day without lunch. The judge had to order the jail to send her a paper bag snack. And people took offense when she had a migraine and would pop a headache pill. Considering that she was supposed to be innocent until proven guilty during the 5 years she resided at Estrella, I often wondered if her Mexican descent worked against her.
Not all inmates at Arpaio’s jails are hardcore criminals. In fact, a lot of them are illegal immigrants, prostitutes, drug addicts, fraudsters and petty thieves. But they are all treated with the same disregard.
According to a federal lawsuit, guards refer to Latino inmates as “wetbacks,” “Mexican bitches,” “stupid Mexicans,” and “fucking Mexicans.” The suit claims that female prisoners were forced to sleep in their own menstrual blood and that guards do not respond to pleas if they are in Spanish. This is essentially why I am allergic to expressions like “you do the crime, you do the time.” It’s never that simple.
Illegal immigration is a top concern for Arizona voters and jailing Mexicans is what pleases them. The State has many influential retirement communities populated by wealthy senior citizens. They want to keep the so-called riffraff out of their neighborhoods and Arpaio answers their call. But the reality of what he does is that he mostly goes after the small fish working quietly to earn a living for his family. “He’s vilified Latinos in such a way that normal people, they’re scared to death,” says Bill Richardson, a retired police officer. Such terror, in turn, only makes it harder for the police to do their jobs.
The sheriff does not often arrest the white businessmen who profit from exploiting immigrant laborers. In his whole career, he’s only apprehended three businesses for hiring illegal immigrants. Instead, he goes after the undocumented workers the businesses hire and then makes sure to notify the media of the arrests. According to the Justice Department, he has often arrested and detained U.S. citizens and legal residents of Latino origin without charge or warrant.
Arpaio’s dislike for Obama was visceral and he went after him with all six-shooters blazing and — much like Donald Trump — made a fool of himself by obsessing over his birth certificate.
He is accusing the President of watering down federal immigration law to win the Latino vote. Pretty ironic when you think that this sheriff is stiffening laws to court the white vote. He refused to acknowledge the president’s decision to grant temporary immunity from imprisonment and deportation to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
He insists that they will still “be arrested.” Recently, a federal judge ordered the appointment of an independent monitor and community advisory board to ensure that the sheriff is complying with constitutional requirements after finding his office engages in racial profiling. Arpaio is not taking this laying down and has vowed to fight the ruling, no doubt with money coming out of the County’s coffers.
The nuggets of information I dug up on Arpaio’s twitter page were revealing to say the least. He prides himself on not being an ‘abortion’. Apparently, his mother decided against an abortion and passed away while giving birth to this future embodiment of the banality of evil. His anti-abortion stance sounds like it is coming directly from the gospel according to Michelle Bachmann.
His hero is the Lone Ranger and quite representative of his antisocial nature. Tonto is nowhere in sight. He follows a fake account of himself to keep track of his virtual enemy.
He also displays a picture of his old typewriter and compares himself to Russian President Putin, who wants to avoid spying and espionage by typing everything the old fashioned way. He owns an older model cell phone and his ringtone is ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra. He has open house adoptions at Harley Davidson stores for the poor animals he champions and the media is always invited.
Recently, to improve his image with the media, he organized a few makeshift classical piano concerts by the chicken fence at Tent City. I wonder if they played La Vie en Rose. And just in time for Veteran’s Day, he has placed U.S. flag stickers on cells and any inmate removing them will be put on bread and water. They’ll also be expected to hear and sing Patriotic anthems. Frankly, I had to stop reading as I was starting to choke on the egocentric hogwash of this Lone Danger.
It is no surprise that he is a close friend of Nancy Grace and often appears on her freak show as well as on Jane Velez Mitchell’s crazy hour. They share the same approach: pretend to love animals and American soldiers so people won’t mind when you scrap every human life you come in contact with along the way.
However, he did not take it too kindly when Nancy Grace said that his jail was ‘cushy’. He appeared on TV to list all the horrors of his institution, so the viewers would not think incarceration in Maricopa could be humane or restorative. He even made a video attacking Canada for being too soft on crime and for having abolished the death penalty.
So if you ever think of saving a horse in Arizona, go ahead but do not be fooled by this Sheriff’s seeming acts of kindness. Take a closer look at his jails where they ride inmates like horses or burritos if they are Mexicans. I would rather save a horse and ride a cowboy, but as far away as possible from Maricopa County.
At the ripe age of 82, I hope this self-proclaimed Christian man has a big Tent City in the sky waiting for him when his time comes to ride into the sunset as a Lone Sinner. Let’s see if the ring tone of his God and Savior will be playing “My Way” or “I Shot the Sheriff.”
A few tweets about Arpaio’s plea to save horses
If those horses were Mexican horses, Arpaio would have had them shot right there on the spot.
Arpaio is known for not providing access to medical treatment in the jails for people, but makes a media event of his seeking vet care for the horses. A self-serving sociopath.
It makes perfect sense to me… Every horse has a horse’s ass.
It’s time for term limits for county sheriffs. Two decades of an entrenched culture of cruelty is far too long. Soon the aging supporters of this cruelty will pass but they will have left a legacy of destruction that is beyond belief. Those who vote these people into office should pay for the damages.
Arpaio may not be a licensed veterinarian, but he is an expert in horseshit. He’s been feeding it to us for the last 18 years.
No wonder some people in Arizona have a bumper sticker that says FUCK ARPAIO
I love this man!
UPDATE: In 2016, Arpaio lost his re-election bid after facing criminal charges two weeks before the vote. Click to read full article.